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Chunming Liu, Christopher Chase, Stefanie Drew, Amy Escobar, Eric Borsting; Visual Discomfort in Graduate School Students Comparing to College Students. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):5437.
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The distribution of visual discomfort symptoms has been characterized in a group of undergraduate college students using a survey developed by Conlon et al. The purpose of this study was to measure symptoms of visual discomfort in a group of graduate students using the same survey, to compare and analyze the type and frequency of visual discomfort symptoms in these two distinct groups of subjects.
A survey of visual discomfort developed by Conlon et al. (Conlon et al., Vis Cogn 1999;6:637-666) was administered to 656 graduate students (mean age of 26) at the Western University of Health Sciences in the fall of 2011. The survey consists of 23 items with a four-point Likert scale (0 to 3) measuring frequency. Scores on the survey can range from 0 to 69. Data were compared to previous study in a undergraduate college student sample (mean age of 20) from 2005 using a Rasch analysis (Borsting et al., Optom Vis Sci 2007;84:745-51).
A Rasch analysis of the survey results revealed a similar unidimensional structure to visual discomfort symptoms in the graduate students (GS) subjects as found in the college student (CS) subjects, with misfit statistics close to 1.0 (infit = 1.01 ± 0.16, outfit = 0.96 ± 0.19). The GS group showed a significantly higher total visual discomfort score (18.4 ± 12.5) when compared to the CS group (15.4 ± 10.2) (p<0.0001). Using a cutoff score of 25, 27.3% of the GS sample had moderate or severe visual discomfort compared to 16.8% of the CS subjects. Rasch item statistics for the GS group were similar to the CS group. Reading problems were the mostly commonly endorsed item followed by symptoms of glare, headache and soreness, blur and diplopia, and then movement and fading of text.
The Conlon visual discomfort survey is an appropriate measure of near symptoms in pre-presbyopic adults and performs consistently in undergraduate and graduate student populations. An increase in visual discomfort symptoms was found in the GS group when compared to the CS group. Older college students with high academic demands could be at increased risk of having a significant level of visual discomfort.
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